I can’t believe it! My family has been Denmark residents for six months! I have to use the cliche saying that time has really flown. I still feel like we’re trying to settle down here, like we just arrived. Sometimes when I’m on my 100th drive to the school, it seems natural and familiar.
So…you may be wondering, what does my family love about Denmark? Or what do we miss from the USA? That’s what this blog post is!
So what do we love about Denmark?
The girls adore their school. It is a completely different learning experience than what most students experience in the States. There is no homework, no quizzes or tests and few worksheets. This is true throughout much of the school. Learning is based on learning through play. Claire has done things like create her own robot, learn about money around the world, learn about different artists and their influences, use math in practical situations like counting money and so on. She loves all her teachers and classmates. She is being exposed to the arts and is now in drama club.
I would say Avery’s class and preschool in the US is very similar. However, Avery, who is four, goes to school every day. It’s not twice a week like it would have been back home. She is learning her colors, numbers, alphabet and how to socialize with others.
I love the community of the school. It has been incredibly easy to talk to other parents and get pointers on how to navigate other aspects of Danish life. Since the community is international, everyone is kind and understanding.
Is the school perfect? Absolutely not. But I am 100% confident we made the right decision for our girls schooling here in Denmark.
Access to Europe
Guys. We can get on a plane and be in Italy in two hours! Or Ireland! Or Spain! Or we can get on a train. Or we can take a ferry across the sea to Sweden or Norway. And happily, this can all be done on a budget. Plane tickets (per person) can go for less than $100 one way. Most countries also have English parts of their website (or I use Google Translate) to help navigate where and when to go to their countries. The easy access we have to all of Europe is so cool. Now if only we could find more vacation time….
Water surrounds Denmark. The ocean is typically within a 30 minute drive wherever you live in Denmark. Although the weather may not cooperate all the time, I love the fact that when it is nice, we can take a drive to the beach.
I am learning so much about Danish culture. The Viking history. Jante’s Law. The traditions. The language.
I love that we are getting a wider view of the world. We no longer see just our culture from back home. I feel like it has broken us out of the bubble people tend to build around themselves when they stay put in one location their whole lives. We are able to see the USA culture from a different point of view. We’re also able to enjoy and learn a new one. Learning a new language is good for the mind too (or so I’ve been told).
Simple. There’s less sugar here. Is it here? Of course. The Danes LOVE their sweets but there is less added sugar in many products. There is also a high tax on sweets here so that helps to discourage too much sweet buying (even though you can just jump the border into Germany to skip that tax).
It is refreshing to see a country that doesn’t fight over climate change. Instead, Denmark is taking steps to become carbon neutral. Nearly half of the countries energy came from renewable sources this past year (source) with 47% being wind. The government is aiming to be CO2 neutral by 2050. They even have the cleanest waste-to-energy plant in the world. Way to take action, Denmark!
The Healthcare (the good stuff)
It’s “free”. By “free”, I mean we have to pay taxes into the system but it’s a number we know and we don’t have to worry about sticker shock during a visit. I don’t have to wonder anymore if the kids or I are sick enough to justify the cost of going to the doctor. I don’t feel as bad walking out of an appointment that only lasts five minutes and being told to go home and rest. Our doctors have been quick but thorough. We have been looked after and gotten the medicine we needed. I also enjoy that I can email our doctor anytime with questions on our health. While I haven’t had experience yet (and hopefully won’t) in the Danish hospital, the general care has been fairly sufficient.
We don’t see those here or at least we don’t understand them in Danish.
Everything is still green. It’s been a warmer than normal January, so the grass is still green. One of our shrubs is even blooming. The trees are covered in moss and cover crops are in the fields.
What do we miss from home?
I miss family. We are missing a lot of great family events and memories. It’s hard to call family and hear them talk about the fun memories that they are making. My girls miss their cousins and grandparents. They are counting down the days till our vacation back to the USA. I also miss that cushion. Knowing I can call a family member who can help in the event of an emergency. While we have made friends here who have been amazing, nothing replaces family.
It is cloudy and dreary nearly every day. We had one day of sunshine this week and it was glorious. True, it only lasted half the day but man, those blue skies were awesome!
Now don’t get me wrong, much of the larger cities in Denmark have great food options. There just isn’t quite the food variety in our area, especially for restaurants. I also have to translate labels a lot to make sure I’m getting the right ingredient for anything I make at home. There are some certain items I have had trouble locating here. The peanut butter is also not the same as the States (less sugar issue).
Foods we miss:
-Pepper Jack Cheese
This hasn’t been a huge issue but I’ve had a few instances where I couldn’t convey my point to someone due to the language difference. It would be nice to just pick of the phone and speak clearly to the person on the other end.
The Healthcare (the bad)
There is little to no bedside manner. I think it has a lot to do with the system here compared to the USA. Doctors do the appointments quickly and efficiently. Medicine is seen as a last option (which isn’t always bad). However, I typically feel rushed and not always heard. Our doctor back in the USA had excellent bedside manner. I felt listened to and that all concerns of mine were addressed without judgement. I didn’t feel as rushed there.
Online Grocery Shopping
I miss it. A lot.
The husband and girls miss the snow (I may miss it just a little). We do miss our winter sports like snowmobiling, sledding and snowball fights. Claire will hear from a relative they got snow and she’ll always comment on how much she misses it.
The Danish Language
It is hard! The letter “d” is either said, ignored or made into a soft “l” sound. “G”s are a whole other story. Look up glottal stop. That’s fun too. Another fun example: “Vi tog to tog.” Those t-words are all pronounced about the same but translate to “We took two trains.” *sigh* Danish is listed as one of the hardest languages to learn by Babbel Magazine. We’ll get it…it just may take a while.
There are days I miss my job back in the States. It does get old doing the same chores in the house from one day to the next. I also loved what I did in Iowa. I miss using those skills to forecast major weather events and sharing them with the public.
Do the cons outweigh the pros? Absolutely not. We are happy and healthy and we’re together. Home is where the heart is, right? It’s a wonderful adventure for us to experience as a family. I think we will be able to survive the next year or two.